Archive for April 3rd, 2011

April 3, 2011

The Surprising Discovery of Richard McChurch

by Rod Smith

Richard McChurch was very aware that God’s a communicating God. The still small voice or the thunderous call, and anything in between, (whichever God might choose to use at a given time) was not something to which he often laid claim. When Richard felt God had spoken to him, he was always particular about inserting the words “I believe God spoke to me.” This not only gave him room to be wrong but also the appearance of humility.

One day he had a very unsettling experience. It was as if everything he had ever believed about the way God treats humans was turned upside down.

“What do you really want, Richard?” he believed God asked when he was earnestly praying about a few major decisions.

The question was posed long and hard. It lodged somewhere deep in Richard. There were no voices, no unusual feelings or anything at all weird about the moment. This was a “matter-of-fact God” meeting him, face-to-face and there was no mistaking who it was as far as Richard was concerned.

“Go on, figure it out Richard. What do you really want?” he felt God say.

It was as if God was playfully saying, “Stop asking me what I want for you. I know what I want for you. I am God. I am not at all confused about what I want for you. What I require is that you demonstrate the courage and willingness to determine what you want for you. Do this, Richard, and we can do business.”

He became very nervous. In his silent negotiations, random and scary thoughts began darting across his mind. It was very disconcerting.

“What if I want to break up my family, hurt someone or steal something?” he questioned God.

“Is that what you really want? You want to go around hurting people? Do you really want to take what is not yours? Do you think damaging others is what you were cut out for?”

“No Lord.”

“Then what kind of game are you trying to play?” he felt God’s persistent voice welling up inside him. “I am asking you to evaluate, for yourself, how you would most like to use the talents I have given you. Take stock of the time you have left, the opportunities that come your way. You keep saying I will grant you the desires of your heart, Richard. But you know what? You wouldn’t recognize them if they jumped out at you from behind a bush. I am asking you to take the responsibility for your life. Develop a blueprint of what would inspire you. Discover and know yourself, Richard. Present me with a plan instead of continually asking me for my plan for you. Find my plan buried like treasure, in your strongest desires and longings. Grow up, in other words!”

Richard was shocked to hear God speak in this manner. He had always been taught that God had a plan for his life and for many years he had waited “in faith” for that plan to unfold. Now it sounded as if God expected him to do something!

“That’s the problem!” God interrupted his confusion; “you want to give me the responsibility for your life when I want you to be responsible for your own life. You think my will is something deep and mysterious when it is not. In fact my will for you is that you discover and do what you really want! It’s about passion Richard, passion. Just make sure it is what you really want.”

Richard thought long and hard and realized to his horror that he really did not like his career, chosen purely for the financial and status benefits. He realized that even his sports interests were built around promoting his career. He sat in stunned silence and realized that if he honestly answered the question he was in trouble.

“What I really want to do God, is so far from what I am doing with my life at present that it will take a miracle from you to turn it around,” he said in near desperation.

“No,” said God, “it will take one from you.”

April 3, 2011

A person who loves you will…..

by Rod Smith

not intentionally embarrass you in private or in public

do all he or she can to avoid scornful comments, hurtful humor, and sarcasm

listen attentively to you even if he/she has heard what you are saying many times

stand up for you when you are right

stand up to you when you are not right

refuse to be a pushover

not offer you blind or unquestioned support. He or she knows that unquestioned support is a form of idiocy and no indication of love. Love invites questioning and dialogue

be unafraid to ask you tough questions

not try to cut you off from your community of family and friends

not tell you how to dress, speak, think, or feel

give you regular, uninterrupted, opportunities for eye-to-eye contact so you have time to each reflect upon your lives. This is time without phones, television, radio, music, pagers, computers, or children invading the holy territory between you

regard both your unshared and your shared private lives with absolute respect

expect and encourage you to have a life outside of the life you share.

April 3, 2011

My faith is once again questioned…..

by Rod Smith

How can you be a Christian AND promote the idea of growing your SELF?

Christians often have little idea of what it means to deny self or to die to self. There is apparently less understanding of what it means to love self and love others. The “mixed” message of “deny self” (a condition of discipleship / Mark 8:34, see also Luke 9:25 NIV) and “love self” (Jesus commanded “love others like you love yourself” in Mark 12:31), I agree, can be confusing.

Jesus did not mean we were to deny we have a self! He meant we were to deny serving the self we know, love, develop, and enjoy.

Conversion to Christianity does not mean your self disappears or that your self is something to be ignored. Conversion TRAINS and DEVELOPS the self to love and serve God.

At conversion the self gets a new perspective. It gets a new focus. At the Cross the SELF gets and a new reason to live. Conversion is the beginning of self-renewal. The self is offered to God as a gift for restoration, renewal, and service.

Rather than serving self, obeying self, and being self-centered and being self-indulgent, at CONVERSION the self decides to serve God and others. At conversion the self submits itself to God’s will, becomes focused on Who God is and What God wants.

Denial of self (as ordered by Jesus) is a person’s decision to refuse self-indulgence and to turn the self toward full service of God.

It takes a developing, growing, and healthy self to love and serve a healthy God.

A non-self, an ignored self, a self whose very existence is denied, cannot love anyone or anything, let alone love and serve a perfect God.

I believe Jesus meant we were to discover who we are, understand who we are, love who we are – while offering all of who we are unequivocally to God as an act of worship, service and sacrifice.

We are to offer ourselves to God as a living, growing sacrifice (Romans 12).

There is a huge difference between identifying and developing a self to serve God and living in the denial that we have a self at all.

Jesus was a SELF to be reckoned with – yet He was not selfish at all — be the same.